THE BURGER'S PRIEST // MAKING GIVING ADDICTIVE // ENTREPRENEURIAL TIPS FOR SUCCESS
DRESSING THE PART:
pastors’ kids REVEALED
THE NEED FEED:
CAN Social media and charity MESH?
PUMPS AND CIRCUMSTANCE: WHY John fluevog Plays his own tune
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The VIEW FROM THE PEW
convergemagazine.com JAN - FEB 2013 | Issue 10
2 | CONVERGE. jan-feb
What's inside: 9
VIEW FROM THE PEW
FIELD NOTES: SEXY TEXTS
BREAKING BONDS THAT TIE
DOES CHARITY NEED TO BE ONLINE?
PASTOR & MISSIONARY KIDS
CONFRONTING EXPECTATIONS OF PASTORS' KIDS 22
Training believers to become
DISCIPLE-MAKERS who impact their world
for Jesus Christ. www.prbi.edu
Peace River Bible Institute Box 99 / Sexsmith AB / T0H 3C0
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Vancouver MarCH 14
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Winnipeg MarCH 12
St. John’s april 9
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10 | Jan-Feb 2013 Christian Info Society #301 - 291 East 2nd Ave Vancouver B.C. V5T 1B8 604.558.1982 1.888.899.3777
World Vision’s annual Church leaders Forum
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Doing Church Differently
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Explore with Shane how the Church can bring some of Heaven to Canada by becoming a Holy Counter Culture influencing our neighbourhoods and world by dreaming big and living small.
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Clayton Imoo, Craig Ketchum, Lisa Pike, Chelsea Batten, Lauren Bentley, Michelle Sudduth, Tracy Le, Flyn Ritchie, Stephanie Ip, Andy Johnson, Grayson Bain,
and Featuring author aiborne Cl e an Sh r ke spea
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“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” — Jack Kerouac, On the Road Some go to school to become lawyers, others to become doctors, and while those professions are held in very high esteem, no one is more celebrated than the entrepreneur. Maybe it’s because we see in them what we each want to be — brazen, inventive, even reckless — but are afraid to be. Entrepreneurs in our culture are the equivalent of the mythological heroes from times past. Beowulf was known for his courage, Hercules for his strength, but today we are in awe of the creativity of Steve Jobs and the ingenuity of Richard Branson. It can be intimidating to be in the presence of these people. Not because of their riches or acclaim but because their drive and willingness to throw everything away in pursuit of a single goal can make one feel inadequate and lazy. They’ll re-mortgage their homes, take on extra jobs, and even further themselves into debt just to fulfill their dreams. When they finally do make it there are usually people who sit around in their safe office cubicles and say, “I could have thought of that,” or “I could do that.” But few ever follow through. Upon meeting John Fluevog I’m struck by how one local Vancouver man who breathes the same air I do, and walks on the same sidewalks that I frequent, has created such a fashion empire simply by following his God-given instincts. He started his company with a single shoe store and has now expanded to include stores in every fashion-forward city in North America. I’m stunned by the devotion of Shant Mardirosian who took on four jobs to finance his dream of serving the best burger in Toronto. While many in his position might have given up at the first sign of risk, Mardirosian was steadfast in pursuing his life’s goal. Finally, I’m so grateful for John Bromley’s devotion to charity. His commitment to making giving a natural and essential part of our lives is exemplary because it encourages us to think outside of our own wants and needs. These are our local entrepreneurs, the ones you might bump into while grabbing a coffee or know through a friend of a friend. They’re closer to you than you think and we hope you’ll be inspired by their stories.
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apply today! firstname.lastname@example.org twu.ca/summer-highschool See you at Missions Fest - booth V10!
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Be Prepared. OVER LUNCH A CO-WORKER ASKS YOU WHY YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN. WHAT YOU SAY MAY DRAW THEM CLOSER TO CHRIST, OR PUSH THEM AWAY. WHAT WILL YOUR ANSWER BE?
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M a r k 3:1 4 “That they might be with Him”
n the beginning, the story goes, God spoke a cosmos into being, calling it out of chaos, drawing it with His words. Lifting a finger was needless with such omnipotence. Ironically, rest utterly characterized the most energetic endeavour in the universe. Jesus’ incarnation unlocked the possibility of the Divine experiencing physical weariness, but He knew how to abide (a loyal, constant, and perseverant residence or frequent resort), as He had been abiding with His Father since the beginning. Out of this consistent residence with God, He drew everything He needed in every circumstance. With empathy at the core of God’s incarnational project, Jesus draws others into close relationship with Him and teaches them all if they are willing to hear. One of His most central teachings is abiding. Over and over again, Jesus imparts the importance of abiding and models it with His lifestyle. Mark 3:13-19 narrates the calling of Jesus’ twelve apostles, stating that He wanted them, that He called them, and that He appointed them. What was their appointment?
First, to be with Him. The original commission of the twelve disciples — like the original commission of Israel and of humankind — was to be with God, to do life with Him involved. Second, Jesus gives His disciples authority — supernatural power. Power to preach, to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demonic spirits. They receive the power to restore. They are likely eager to get out and start putting things right. After all, the church has been involved with justice from its inception. Yet, Jesus immediately pulls them back to their first appointment — to be with him — and they go into a house. With God dwelling in you, you are powerful. Make no mistake, there is power at work. The real question is what kind of power you are exercising. Are you becoming more like God? If you abide in God, you will become like Him. If you do not stay close to God, you will not become like Him, and can inf lict damage as His representative. Your first mission is to abide. The success of your second mission, and every subsequent challenge, depends on it.
— cr a ig
Fun VALENTINE'S DAY Ideas Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a couple’s wasteful expense, nor a stab to a single guy or gal’s heart. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of the holiday, wherever you’re at in your love life. By Carmen Bright
for couples: This one should be easy, right? After all, this day is all about you. Millions of glittery pink cards fly off the shelves as well as millions of boxed chocolates that go straight to your thighs. But can you do this day without all that commercialized kerfuffle, saving you a bit of cash (and scale) trauma? Why, yes!
Potted plants A dozen red roses are beautiful and say a lot about your blooming, passionate love. The sad part is, they wither away by the next week, so why not get a potted flower that flourishes instead? If you don’t have the greenest of thumbs, then a cactus would be the next best, albeit prickly, suggestion.
Make dinner together Strengthen your relationship with a little teamwork in the kitchen, and learn a thing or two about culinary arts. A simple pasta dinner with a touch of candle light tastes better made together. And plus, we all know that people who can cook are sexy, so it’s time to practice. Kraft Dinner, unfortunately, does not count.
Make your own gift Curating memories into a scrapbook or writing a song or poem for your love will tug on their heartstrings far more than the obligatory bouquet of flowers or teddy bear. Don't be afraid to get cheesy; Valentine’s Day is the only legit excuse to work your smooth Cheez Wiz moves.
For solo flyers:
One kid, two kids, three years or four, don't forget your spouse, who you married, who you adore!
This is your time to shine, not whine! Love will come to you, it will find a way, so don't bother burying yourself in pity. Turn this Single’s Awareness Day into Self-Awareness Day. Treat yourself, find yourself, figure out what you want, and get to know yourself again (we all tend to lose ourselves with the busyness of our lives). You are at your best when you feel good about yourself.
Treat the community: Put a little time and effort into giving some love to your community. There are many out there who are in desperate need of love, or at least a kind gesture. Find a charity or non-profit you’d like to support and put in some volunteer hours.
How else can you be sure?
Find the TrueU® DVD series at Shop.focusonthefamily.ca/trueu 2013
Try a daytime date Head over to the coziest coffee shop and enjoy each other’s company with a nice jazzy soundtrack. Go for a walk or run together and get that blood pumping! It will also relieve the stress built up from crying babies, or stepping on a minefield of legos in your living room.
couch cuddling Round up the fam-gang for a movie night or a TV show marathon. Pop that corn and cuddle up with your family. Bonus: make a “bake date” with your kids for movie time snacks — Everyone wins!
GIFT IDEA: Make your own with this simple DIY:
It’s okay to ask questions
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You can get so caught up with work life and family life that the time left to appreciate your partner becomes sparse. Let Valentine’s Day be a reason to spend some quality time with each other.
Designed for ages 16 and up F R O M T H E C R E AT O R S O F F O C U S O N T H E FA M I LY ’ S
Wine CORK MINI MAGNET PLANTER Say you have tons of wine corks left over from all the Christmas parties and your New Yearâ€™s Eve bash. What to do with them all? Why not get crafty with them and make gifts for those you love on Valentineâ€™s day?
WHAT YOU NEED: 1) Wine corks (not plastic) 2) Succulent cuttings 3) Magnets 4) Hot glue gun & glue sticks 5) Potting soil 6) A sharp digging tool. An electric screw driver with a small drill nib works too.
Hollow out the cork carefully. Use the corkscrew hole from opening the bottle to your advantage.
Using the tiniest spoon (or its handle) pack soil into the hole.
Use your digging tool to stab the soil to create a hole for your plant. Then add the succulent. Prune if you have to give yourself more stem.
Glue the magnet onto the cork.
Step 5: Now stick that cute cork on a fridge, with a little red bow for a little extra flair. Water it with an eyedropper.
fairmount.liberti.org 10 am Sundays 1901 W. Girard Ave Philadelphia, PA
The View from the Pew
local church reviews, one region at a time By Chelsea Batten
Prefatory note: When I was struggling to live in New York City, I had a conversation with a church friend. I told her that I wasn’t sure about staying in New York; as much as I’d always wanted to live there, I was finding myself drawn to live in other places. Lots of other places. But I didn’t know if that kind of thing was allowed, since Christians are supposed to commit to local churches. She shrugged. “Maybe that’s your thing,” she said. “Maybe you’ll visit churches all over the country and learn from them and encourage them.”
Scene Urban location; small congregation; one Sunday morning service. My friend Katie has been attending here since the church was planted out of Manhattan’s famed Redeemer Presbyterian. For a church plant, I found it surprisingly well-proportioned between oldish and youngish, and among families, couples, and single types. The service was held in the gymnasium of Philadelphia’s Berean Institute. Despite the basketball hoops at either end, the space felt very churchy by virtue of its clean white walls, the shafts of sunlight that poured through the overhead skylights, and the cavernous echo occasioned by its uninsulated walls.
Worship It’s a rare event to visit a church and hear worship music played exactly the way you like it. But I should have known — my friend Katie is one of my favourite musicians. She was on drums that day, playing brushes on a snare. There were two guitarists, a bassist, and an extra female vocalist. The songs were mostly hymns, performed with an upbeat sincerity, as if we were all sitting together on a summerhouse porch.
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This series is not intended as objective criticism, or even as criticism at all. It’s a subjective impression of a brief encounter with a local body of believers. If I was staying in these communities, I probably wouldn’t write a word about them until I’d attended for at least a year. But since I’m on the road and only there to visit once, I can give a hint of what a first-time visitor feels. First-time visitors are hardly objective when forming opinions; that’s my excuse for calling it like I see it, even if I’m seeing it wrong. I also hope to give an impression of cultural and regional differences in churches around the continent.
When worship was over, a woman left her metal folding chair and walked front and centre. I’m not going to say goodlooking people shouldn’t be allowed to assume the pulpit (or music stand, in this case); I’m just going to say that given her piercing grey eyes and Rubenesque figure, it was a slightly weird moment. Especially when her homily turned out to be about idols, and she explained that idols lurk behind things you can’t stop thinking about, and people you want to be like. Another good-looking person, this time a guy, came to the front and encouraged the congregation to attend an upcoming membership retreat. He spoke in the classic “Philly” accent — somewhere between Mafia boss and construction worker, and his smile was that of a tough guy gone unexpectedly shy. He mentioned that upon becoming a member, he got to serve communion to his wife and his mom. Though he didn’t elaborate on this experience, his quiet, self-conscious assertion that “It was meaningful to me” was endorsement enough. If I went to this church, I would totally go to the membership retreat on the strength of his laconic testimonial. An elder then took the stand and led
everyone in the Lord’s Prayer. After, he read Philippians 2:5-11, the morning’s text. He ended the reading the way I love, by closing his Bible and saying, “The word of the Lord.” And the congregation murmurs, “Thanks be to God.”
Sermon The pastor had twinkly eyes and crinkly hair slicked into submission. He also had the soft voice of a practiced counsellor; you could easily see him putting his hand on a troubled youth’s arm and repeating gently, “It’s not your fault.” I’m instinctively drawn to pastors who thunder more than he did, but I liked the points he made about transcendence versus immanence, and I especially appreciated his interpretation of Philippians 2:6, a verse I’ve often heard preachers stretch to explain. “Counting,” he said (with support from the story of Achan in Joshua 7), is keeping track of things that we think we need. “The thing you think you need to be who you are,” he said, “the thing you wake up at night fearing will be taken from you — that is ‘counting.’” And then — I’m hesitant to even tell this part — he recited the words to a song by Pink, “F’ing Perfect,” where she
Flickr photo by Tom Ipri
Afterward The obligatory coffee table had gone dry, and the room was cold, which meant that people instinctively huddled close together in search of each other’s body heat. I had an easy “in” with conversations, since I was there with my friend and her husband; still, I stood off by myself for a few minutes, throwing eye contact here and there to see if anyone took the cue. Nobody did. This is a thing I’m still trying to understand about small churches. I find that the eye-contact fishing method works like a charm in a big church; sometimes I don't even have to do it before somebody is shaking my hand and asking where I’m from. But in small churches, it seems like everyone is wearing an affable expression but remaining regretfully turned three-quarters away from new people. I went up to the pastor to ask him about something he’d mentioned in his sermon. One-on-one, his caring demeanor was powerfully magnetic.
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People seemed very chatty with each other, and I’m sure if I had taken the initiative, I wouldn’t have been frozen out. However, even while I was standing with my friend in conversations with people, nobody really spoke to me after I’d been introduced.
Chosen People Ministries (Canada)
Amenities: 6 talks back to the internal and external voices that say she’s inadequate. According to the pastor, “When you hear the Father speaking to you like that, you’re getting it.” I was a little bit shattered at this point, because just moments before I was feeling truly pierced by the stuff he was bringing. This moment could have been a deal breaker for me, but then he jokingly asked God’s forgiveness for quoting Pink in church. So I began to recover, and even a later reference to Lord of the Rings didn’t lose me, since he quoted from Alec Motyer in almost the same breath. He ended with this challenge, which I am still contemplating: “Think about your spirituality — what’s the first word that comes to mind? Is it Jesus? Do you think of his work on your behalf?” Then communion was announced, to my renewed discomfort, as a “luscious table.” We all recited the Apostles’ Creed together, then marched forward to pull pieces off a loaf of bread and drink from shared goblets. I strangely love this method of doing communion, even if it does carry the same threat to the immune system as recirculated oxygen in an airplane.
The coffee table wasn’t much to look at, but it had tea! That is a huge step forward, in my opinion. If only the airpots had lasted longer.
Music: 10 My personal favourite flavour — upbeat, sincerely performed hymns. I didn’t find that the lo-fi instrumentation set it back at all.
Sermon: 8.5 Even with a few references that gave me a shudder, the sermon was empathetic, intelligent, and provocative.
Is your journey taking you where 53 you need to go? Why wait?
Vibe: 9 Would I go back? Yes
have a unique church? Want your church featured in Converge? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rocky Mountain College Calgary, Alberta • 1.877.YOUnRMC www.rockymountaincollege.ca convergemagazine.com | 13
Here are some common questions (and answers) regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
I Have Something to Confess By Clayton Imoo
Why do Catholics go to a priest instead of directly to God for forgiveness? God desires to reach us through the Church (the community of believers) and He wants us to be a family. Thus, He gave us priests to serve as our spiritual helpers: they have the ability and the authority to administer God’s forgiveness to us. The priest serves as the representative of Christ and his main action is to forgive our sins. When we sin, it doesn’t affect just us — it robs our fellow believers of our being in communion with God and them. We believe that the Church is a body made up of many parts. Therefore, when one member suffers, the whole body suffers.
Why do Catholics have to go to Confession if God knows everything? When we go to confession, we apologize for our sins. We are not telling God something He doesn’t already know. God knows everything, but He wants us to acknowledge our wrongdoings and seek forgiveness. In addition to saying sorry to God, confession also restores us to the Church. If the Church is a body made up of many parts, there is no such thing as a private sin; every sin has a ripple effect and impacts the world negatively. Thus, going to confession helps build up the Body of Christ — we are proclaiming that we believe in the healing power of the sacrament.
What sins do you confess? Catholics need to confess “mortal sins,” any sin that is a serious offense against God and involves serious immoral acts, or what the Church calls “grave matters.” There are three factors that make a sin a mortal sin: it’s a serious sin, you know it’s serious, and you choose to commit it anyway. When we commit a mortal sin, we lose the virtue of charity. There is a second category of sins called “venial sins.” A venial sin is a less serious offense against God. A sin is venial when it is not seriously wrong or if seriously wrong, it is done with less than full knowledge or full consent. One does not have to confess venial sins, although it is helpful to our spiritual development to confess them when we think of them. “I am sorry.” Put together, they are three of the most powerful, comforting, and humbling words to hear or say. As a married man of 12 years, I know that I’ve said this phrase numerous times to my wife Gail. Of course, it only means something if it’s genuine — and Gail is very good at seeing through me on those rare occasions when it’s not. For Catholics, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most unique and beautiful aspects of our faith. There are many names for the sacrament, including the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Conversion, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, and the Sacrament of Penance. They all point to the same goal: that we as sinners would obtain forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with God and with the Church. The sacrament renews us in Christ and washes us clean. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23). As I wrote about in the last issue, going to confession is one of the requirements for receiving Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.
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What happens after you make your confession? After repentance (expressing your sorrow to God) and confession, the third main action is reparation, or your intention to do what you can to correct the damage your sins have caused. At the conclusion of your confession, you make an Act of Contrition in which you state that you are sorry for your sins and that you will commit to not sinning again. The priest will then give you a penance to repair the harms that your sins have caused. Penance usually consists of prayers or an act of charity, and you should do it as soon as possible. As part of my role as a Catholic youth Learn more minister, we encourage young people to about Clay at frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation. claytonimoo.com With so many temptations and vices where he blogs present in today’s society, it’s easy for about family, faith young people to slip and fall away from and the Vancouver God. By going to confession regularly, Canucks. Follow youth are enabled stay on the right track him on Twitter: and strengthen the overall body of Christ. @claytonimoo.
Flickr photos by Dirk Dallas
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“I’M A CHRISTIAN, SO HOW COME I FEEL SO LOST?” YOU CAN PROVIDE ANSWERS THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE Train online today to lead others through The Truth Project – a DVD-based study for small groups, from Focus on the Family
FIND OUT MORE AT TRUTHPROJECT.CA/ENGAGE
THE TRUTH PROJECT ANSWERS QUESTIONS SUCH AS: / AM I JUST A PRODUCT OF EVOLUTION? / DO I HAVE A PURPOSE? / HOW DO I DETERMINE RIGHT FROM WRONG? / WHAT DOES SCIENCE REVEAL ABOUT GOD? / WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “KNOW” GOD?
Also from the creators of The Truth Project:
Answers for teens and young adults
Find the TrueU® DVD series at Shop.focusonthefamily.ca/trueu
FIELD NOTES VOL. 4
Getting the Message
Our resident single lady wonders if it’s wrong to feel wanted By Chelsea Batten “You up? Feeling frisky?” When I was a kid — nine or maybe ten — my Sunday school class was taught by Ellen, an inordinately tall woman with fat elbows and a bowl haircut. She wore oblong glasses with rust-tinted lenses and highwater pleated pants. Ellen was what my parents and their married peers called a Neat Single Lady. She was really nice, and knew the Bible, and cared a lot about the kids in her Sunday school class. I hated her. I hated her for her rounded shoulders and the puffy belly that held up her high-waisted khakis. I hated the way she clearly didn’t know that you could see her geriatric bra right through her synthetic-fibre polo shirt. It was that, more than anything, that I hated — her unawareness that she was a pity case, that people liked her because she suited their needs. The rest of the world had everything to gain and nothing to fear from her. She had forgotten, it seemed, that she was a woman. And that was why my parents and other parents called her “Neat” and “Single” — never the two adjectives separated — in voices pregnant with relief. She’d never be busy, or moody, or out of town when they needed her. The unpredictability of sexual nature had been vacuumed out of her, leaving her completely, benignly reliable.
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Sometimes I wonder if, like Ellen, I’m walking through life in a state of benign androgyny, and that everyone knows it but me. “What’s up? What you doin’?” It’s 1:24 a.m., and I’m having a very hard time getting to sleep. But I won’t turn my phone off. The messages keep coming in, probably because I keep answering them. Never with explicit encouragement — I follow a careful, dignitypreserving protocol so I can look myself in the eye the morning after. Wait at least five minutes after each text before responding. Never say anything committal or inviting. The occasional challenge is permissible, for example: “You’d never say something like that in person.” In situations like this, explicit encouragement is hardly necessary. I might not be initiating the exchange, but I know where it’s coming from. On this kind of sleepless night, all you need is to know someone’s there on the other end of the line, paying attention. “Too bad you’re not here. I know what we could do.” My deepest depressions aren’t because I don’t get presents on Valentine’s Day. It’s because I wonder if everyone likes me the way they liked Ellen. Because I babysit for people, and keep showing up at church, and nod humbly when
couch, their limbs interlaced like a braided lanyard, she shrugged and said, They’re getting older. They need it more.” I went and got a pen and paper, and wrote her words down, with the date and time marked beside them. If permissibility is scaled on the basis of age, my parents’ living room is going to look like the set of Jersey Shore by the time I get engaged. “It means whatever you want it to mean.” I love the looks I get from guys when I’m dancing. I love the way they smile kind of sheepishly when their girlfriends are standing nearby, and I also love the sideways smirk that emerges when they don’t have a girlfriend. I love when their cocky desperation goes past the point of dignity. I love all this the most when it just happens, without me trying. These are the things I remember when I’m lying alone at night. Some might say that I should deplore these things, since they have nothing to do with me as a person. Sometimes I do feel a little guilty about it. The guilt doesn’t feel as bad as the fear that I might instead become Ellen. “Hey. You still up?” At 2:29 a.m., I think I did raise the ante, messaging back, “So what would you do?” But it seems he doesn’t know
He says something that you’d expect to hear from a Victorian-era ancestor of Austin Powers. I tell him to go to sleep. people commend me for waiting on God’s timing. Because year after year, I do what they’d never have done, if they’d remained unmarried as long as I have. If they can commend me for doing it, they feel like we’re together on the right track. They threaten to erupt when I hint at the truth. So I don’t tell them the truth anymore. “Are you cold? I bet I could keep you warm.” My parents always said they wouldn’t approve of a guy who initiated too much physical contact during the dating period. But when I questioned my mom on her feelings about my sister and her fiancé cuddling on her
how to respond; he must not reach this point very often. He says something that you’d expect to hear from a Victorian-era ancestor of Austin Powers. I tell him to go to sleep, and I turn off my phone. Most of the happily married Christian couples I know did, in fact, have sex before they got married. They just never tell you that, until they think that you’ve done it already or that you’re strong enough never to do it. Whether or not I do feel any guilt — for the dancing, the flirting, and the texts — I wonder if I should. Then I wonder if this is just what people do now, and everybody knows it but me.
YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT CONFERENCE
MISSIONS FEST 2013
When: January 25+26 Where: Vancouver Convention Centre
Celebrating the Growth of the Global Church
MISSIONS FEST VANCOUVER
His Story Revealed
Friday, Jan. 25, 7:00 p.m. SPEAKER: Nigel Paul WORSHIP: Ben Woodman & John Fortune COST: $14 (at the door) Saturday, Jan. 26, 7:00 p.m. SPEAKER: Luis Palau WORSHIP: Restoration Church Band COST: $14 (at the door) Plus Youth Seminars, Film Festival, and 250 mission displays. For more information go to missionsfestvancouver.ca. Tickets available online or call 604.524.9944 / Sponsoring Church Special Discount before Jan. 18, 2013
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the introspective artist Why second place is still a victory for this musician By Stephanie Ip
o say that someone is “in their element” reflects a belief that any g iven indiv idua l ha s a preferred way of living; one that is suited to their personality, their quirks. It’s the idea that there is a context in which an individual can fully perform to the best of their abilities, fully thrive and enjoy their passions. That’s not to say the individual — in this case, Vancouver singer/songwriter Jordan Klassen — can’t perform in other capacities. You just won’t find them at their greatest comfort level. When Klassen sat down in late November for an interview with Converge, he was cordial but not overbearing, unlike other artists might be at a similar level of success. Klassen spoke cautiously, well aware that he comes across awkward at times but also eager to share his thoughts and feelings. On stage, however, Klassen is as comfortable as they come. As cliché as it might be, Klassen truly lets loose and is more than at home behind a microphone where he can communicate with
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St. Brigid EP 2010
Kindness EP 2012
Converge TV Exclusive:
an audience through song. It’s not surprising, since it’s something he’s been doing for several years — long before entering the 2012 Peak Performance Project and walking away with the $75,000 second prize. While other artists saw the project as a “make-it-or-break-it” chapter in their career, Klassen took it as another step in an alreadyset-out journey, one that finds him comfortably on his way in the music world. Regardless of how the competition played out, Klassen was already destined for something greater. “I took away a deeper sense of knowing that I’m doing what I ought to be doing. I felt affirmed and encouraged . . . and also like [I] fit into this big puzzle,” he said. “I am like these people but I also have something different to offer.” Visit convergemagazine.com to see more of Jordan Klassen’s interview with Converge TV and for an audio exclusive. Photo by Carmen Bright
Photos by Family Life
Bonds that Tie
of higher learning in my chosen field of psychology, I had developed an ego the size of Texas and an attitude to go along with it. My self-discovery and personal opinions were vividly taking shape and I truly believed what I was saying to be rock solid. Forget delivery, tactfulness, and respect, I had checked those at the front door and ignored the knot of caution in the pit of my stomach while my brazen inner punk kid challenged my parents. Twenty years later I still cringe when I hear that sentence repeated in my mind. It was so easy then to point fingers and predict that I and my generation would be better at raising children than our parents were. Now I have three children of my own and there are days I can honestly say I’m not doing things much differently than they did, let alone better. Many of my parenting skills are instinctive echoes of my mother’s and father’s — the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are days I catch myself channeling my mother’s go-to disciplinary catch phrases. One part of my brain realizes they’re borderline ridiculous — but nonetheless, they roll off my tongue and pass through my teeth as if I’m caught in some generational tractor beam.
Your parents' broken marriage doesn't have to be a death sentence for your own By Lisa Pike
t’s 1992. I’m 19, home from university for Christmas holidays, and the crowded restaurant where I’m having dinner with my family is buzzing with activity. We are engaged in a heated discussion and my mother and I are dominating the conversation. Snippets of scalding sentences float back to my memory with raw honesty and slight regret. Words I wish I’d left unsaid; some pronounced with a fiery arrogance that will never be forgotten. “My generation will be smarter than yours, we know more, we have more effective and helpful resources, and more importantly, we will be better parents.” Not surprisingly that sentence was not well received. Somehow in one short semester away from home, amid the heady experience
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Children of divorced parents are statistically more hesitant to get married, and of those that do, only 60 per cent stay married But out-of-date copycat parenting skills and crazy idiosyncrasies are the least of my worries. I have bigger problems. When I was 22 my parents separated and then divorced. According to a wealth of research this puts me at risk in my own marriage. Not surprisingly, children of divorced par-
FAMILYLIFE ents are statistically more hesitant to get married, and of those that do, only 60 per cent stay married — talk about discouraging — as opposed to the 91 per cent from intact marriages. Even worse, research also indicates the issues and fundamental behaviors responsible for the demise of a marriage are passed on to our children. In essence, we inherit brokenness and then pass it on to the next generation. You see, us kids of divorced parents have difficulty in the marriage department for more reasons than one, and it can be easily justified why our relationships sometimes crumble under the weight of the hurt and pain we carry around. Not to mention that our own conflict resolution skills may be underdeveloped because we've rarely seen a
I believe in a God who loves me more than I could ever imagine and promises to accompany us in the union He designed for our benefit. He never said it would be easy (quite the contrary actually), and the bulk of the work does rest on our shoulders, but it is possible to change our fate. Our story is still being written. Just because we come from broken families doesn’t mean we can’t have happy, whole
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Just because we come from broken families doesn’t mean we can’t have happy, whole relationships. If anything, we owe it to ourselves, and our children, to give it the best we’ve got. good model. But I refuse to become a dreary statistic. Instead, I would like to make sure my own kids are among the more optimistic 91 per cent. It’s definitely a solid reason to do all I can in my own marriage for the sake of theirs. Twenty years ago I may have been a naïve punk kid who made a statement that rocked the boat, but today I still believe it to be true. We are getting smarter, we do have more resources and the capabilities to become better parents — or at the very least more educated ones. But “smarts” will only get us so far. It’s what we do that counts. We need to be conscious of the behaviours we are passing on to future generations and if we don’t know how to do something, it’s our responsibility to find out, get help, and support one another. My husband and I have been married for 13 years and we realize we will always be on a quest to build, maintain, and occasionally repair our relationship. That’s just how life is, forever changing, often uncertain, and with no guarantees. But thankfully we don’t have to go it alone.
relationships. If anything, we owe it to ourselves, and our children, to give it the best we’ve got. And every now and then we should let our inner punk kid speak up and give us some advice, because sometimes it can be pretty wise.
Lisa Pike is the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for FamilyLife Canada and lives in Abbotsford, B.C. with her husband and three children. She is passionate about encouraging families through helpful and practical resources. Lisa has been touched by the lives that have been changed during FamilyLife Canada’s Weekend to Remember marriage retreats. For more information about FamilyLife Canada, please visit familylifecanada.com.
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The entrepreneurs “Ninety-percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than one hundred percent perfect and stuck in your head.” — Jon Acuff How many of us have brilliant dreams but are afraid to chase them because we fear rejection or failure? The truth is, ideas that are never executed don’t even stand a chance. The following are stories of people who have blazed their own trail and lived to tell about it.
PHOTOs BY JOSH DUNFORD
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One man's quest to make CHARITY addictive By SHARA LEE
Chimp: The Future of charity?
any men seek to follow in their father’s footsteps. Even though John Bromley had always respected and admired his father Blake Bromley’s work as a global leader in charity law, he had no intention of going into his Dad’s line of work. “I never planned on working for him,” he says, “and there was never any pressure or even discussion in that regard.” The fact that it did happen was surprising considering John did not even pursue an education in law. “I went to McGill [and] did a bachelor of commerce. Despite not being the strongest math student I had a lot of interest in economics and finance. I ended up pursuing a career in corporate finance and worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers and then RBC Capital Markets,” he says. However, fate intervened and according to John, “It kind of happened very naturally and accidentally.” He was asked by his father to come back to Vancouver to help start a merchant bank. “The premise of the merchant bank was to buy and sell assets with all the proceeds going to charity. We were working towards a notion that fundraising wasn’t the only way to get money into the charitable sector anymore,” recalls John. As the days passed, John grew increasingly involved in his father’s work, sitting in on meetings, watching him interact firsthand with clients, and learning all he could about charity. “I was always interested in what he did. He was the pioneer of charity law and strategy in Canada.” After John had become more comfortable in the charity sector, he felt that he needed to brand the work that he and his father were doing. Thus Benefic was born. “When I came in I was a bit more of a ‘notional’ business man or entrepreneur which just meant that in convergemagazine.com
addition to doing the work, I wanted to call it something that people could remember and maybe have a website,” he says. Five years later, John is still working with his dad at Benefic giving legal and strategic advice to charities. He says that the firm specializes in moving ‘hard’ money, meaning assets that are difficult to liquefy. “It’s not, ‘Hey I’ve got $100 million cash in the bank that I want to give away,’ that’s not realistic. It’s more like, ‘I have $100 million worth of assets, how do I give them away?’” John explains. “Maybe it’s an apartment building, maybe it’s a factory in another country, maybe it’s a software company.” Benefic helps move these assets into the charitable sector. Although John was doing his best to help clients with the tools and the knowledge passed down from his father, he still found that he was running into problems that couldn’t be solved without some sort of structured framework. Often he would advise clients on how their non-profits should work and they would try to implement his advice but somehow not succeed. “There was some form of broken telephone going on, so what was happening in the real world was different than what was happening in my mind,” he says.
I just started saying, “why am I spending all my time telling other people what my vision for charity is in a web-based framework, why don’t I just build it myself?” It was then that John decided he would have to create a web-based platform to help charities with their internal organization. “I just started saying, ‘why am I spending all my time telling other people what my vision for charity is in a webbased framework, why don’t I just build it myself?’” he recalls. Peer Giving was born out of those frustrations. Today Peer Giving provides charities with tools to effectively tell their stories, increase their reach by building relationships, and grow their funds. But catering to charities left out the people who John refers to as “the real heroes” — the donors. He wanted to come up with another web-based platform that would make the giving process easier, so he created Chimp (Charitable Impact) fund for the everyday steward. Chimp is an evolving charity bank that users can load with money to give to multiple charities. All the giving is done from one central location and it’s all done online. It’s a streamlined approach to giving and one that allows donations to be given anonymously with the donor still receiving a tax receipt. Users can still support the work of charities without getting extra solicitations in the mail. John’s vision for Chimp is that it will facilitate the spread of charitable values. “I can send friends money to give away on a neutral platform,” John says. There’s no doubt in his mind that the future of charity exists primarily online. “There will be an electronic relationship
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between donor and donee. My son is a year-and-a-half old and he will never see a chequebook in his life. By definition he is going to be transacting [electronically] whether he is buying bubble gum or donating to his church,” he predicts. But the ever-increasing use of the web by charities and donors can’t all be rosy. Slacktivism (the practice of sharing causes online without doing much else) for instance, raises a few concerns. Are we as a culture moving away from stewardship and giving by virtue of being online? People today are probably more inclined to press “like” on Facebook than donate any of their hard-earned dollars. John admits there are some shortfalls to the Internet with regards to the nonprofit sector. “Where the Web can be bad for charity is that it increases the velocity at which things like the ‘ask’ gets spammed around like crazy. The compassion fatigue is going to increase at a much higher rate than when . . . someone happens to knock on your door,” John explains. “It’s just pure scale.” In order to survive, John believes charity needs to be re-taught. He thinks back to his own childhood where every Sunday his parents would entrust him with a five dollar bill to give away at Sunday school. “I got used to the notion of having a five dollar bill in my pocket that I knew I could spend on licorice,” he recalls. “I knew I could go to 7-eleven and spend it on hockey cards, but I had to take that five dollar bill and
either be dishonest to my parents or I had to give it away.” In this same way parents can set up Chimp accounts for their children so that they can get used to the idea of giving money away. But the responsibility to take initiative lies also with the people and organizations who are passionate about creating a renewed culture of giving. This could start with an individual donor or organization saying, “If you come to the ‘Save the Penguins’ page on Facebook, and ‘like’ it, we’ll Chimp you a dollar.” “What they’ve done is attracted someone with the carrot of a dollar and that person has gone because they know the barrier to liking is super low and they think penguins are cute. So boom, now they’ve got a dollar in their Chimp fund,” explains John. “[It’s] an avenue into participating in charity.” John wants giving to become addictive. And he thinks that people will take in-
I want to get people addicted to charity. terest in charity if they’re given the right tools so that involvement becomes easier. Slacktivism can be good if it’s used as a gateway into bigger giving. “Think about charity as a drug. If I want to get you hooked on coke then I don’t need you to get addicted to coke
THE One Year
One Percent CHALLENGE Everyone has it in them to give one per their basic necessities in the Sudan, or cent of their income towards a cause or part of our shoreline is cleaned up. causes they are passionate about. Yet If you give more than one per cent few of us sit down at the start of the year currently, consider upping it this year and commit, even set aside, a percent- by another per cent to make more of age of our income we would like to go an impact in the world. to charity. The One Year, One Percent As C.S. Lewis once said, “If our givChallenge is hoping to change that. ing does not at all pinch or hamper us, Started by a handful of ambitious I should say it is too small. There ought West Coasters who want to create a to be things we should like to do and community of givers, the challenge cannot because our commitment to asks you to allocate at least one per giving excludes them.” cent of your income towards charity in To facilitate this challenge, One 2013. The purpose is to be intentional Year, One Percent has partnered with about your giving, to set aside funds to Charitable Impact (Chimp) Foundation grow your charitable impact this year to allow indecisive users to set aside and reverse the trend of only giving funds without having to think about when asked. which organizations to support right One per cent is easy to give up — for away. Users upload their money into most it’s a couple Starbucks their Chimp account and coffees a month. Those extra can send it at any point to dollars could mean that 150 any charity in Canada. Visit Join the more people in your comoneyearonepercent.com for challenge: munity get a warm dinner, more info. 10 kids are sponsored for —Jeff GOLBY & SARAH SHANDL
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Photo by Josh Yong
right away; I need you to put it in your pocket,” says John with a chuckle. “It’s on you, you’re comfortable with it, and now you’re going to open it up and smell it and touch it. And then the third time maybe you’re going to sniff it, and you sniff it five times and now you’re addicted. And that’s what I want
to do; I want to get people addicted to charity.” John may have gotten into charity through his father, but it’s clear that he’s now creating a legacy of his own — by using his entrepreneurial instincts to sneak charitable values back into the minds of more Canadians.
Phone: 519-651-2869 Toll Free: 1-800-465-1961 DiscoverHeritage.ca Pursuing God with Passion & Excellence convergemagazine.com
CREATING A BURGER HeAVEN By Andy Johnson Photos by Michael Mak and Ethan Park
or Shant Mardirosian the search for a personal “calling” revolved around the lifelong goal of recreating the mythical burger he remembered from his childhood growing up on the west coast of California. Mardirosian loved that burger, and after years of talking about it he took the plunge and walked away from a high-paying restaurant job in downtown Toronto to pursue his dream. He moved to New York City, as doors miraculously opened for him to do so, worked at a number of burger joints, and studied every delicious ounce of the craft that he could before coming home to set up his own shop. Now, a couple of years later, his The Burger’s Priest restaurants in Toronto are the talk of the town and the toast of the city’s culinary elite. A perpetual lineup at the f lagship Queen and Coxwell location, along with growing popularity at the uptown Yonge Street site, prove he’s doing something right. I sat down with Mardirosian at a picnic table outside his restaurant.
Tell us a little about yourself. I’m the owner of The Burger’s Priest. We’ve been open just over two years. June 7th was our two-year anniversary. I was a Bible college student from Tyndale seminary and thought I was going to be a pastor. In my third year I said I don’t want to do that, but I graduated. I finished and I just knew that it wouldn’t be my track. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I always had a passion for food and for the industry so I decided to go into it full fledged and became a waiter at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. [I] worked there for nine years along with a bunch of other jobs, constantly around good food [and]
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high-level service, so that became something that was in my blood. I wanted to open my own place — I always criticized the restaurants I was working at, I would say, “This is messed up, you’ve gotta do it differently.”
So you just quit and opened up your own place? One night in 2006 my buddy Paul and I went to New York, literally on a whim to get a burger. We drove all night and by the time we got there it was like 8 a.m., so we had a bagel and he said, “You’ve got to come to this bar, a place called PJ Clarke’s.” It was 10 o’clock in the morning, the kitchen was open, and he ordered a rare cheeseburger. I’ve never in my life even known that was possible. He split it in half, I took a bite, and I think I left and came back and ordered three more that day. It was that good. It was like, “I think I need to go and learn how to make this, come back, and do it.”
So you did? Well, we came back and went back to work and in 2007 I said, “I’m going to do this, I’m going to get it done.” I’m an American citizen so it was easy for me to get a job in the States. I took a leave of absence from my job, and prayed, “God, I need to find a place to live.” Because I had a house, I had a mortgage, and to live in Manhattan obviously isn’t cheap. My friend found me this spot called the Menno House, a house owned by the Mennonites. They rent rooms for long-term stays for people who are in town for some sort of mission. I called and said I wanted to get in and they said there were no openings but I could try and put in an application. On the application I wrote: “I’m here to find
the best burger, I think this is what God’s called me to do.” I thought well, might as well just be honest and literally a week later — I still have the email and I look at it every once in a while when I doubt that God’s got his hand on this — they wrote and said, “A spot opened up, we took it to the board and they approved you.”
Just like that? Yep, the rent was $433 a month, in Manhattan, in Gramercy Park. It was ridiculous. It was the exact time I needed to go and the exact time I needed to come back.
So you worked at a few burger joints, learned the trade, then came back and opened up your store?
Left: Customers line up on East Queen St for a holy bite. Above: Shant Mardirosian, founder of The Burger's Priest
When I came back, the financial crisis happened. I didn’t have a lot of dough, and no one was lending. I knew I had to work. So I got my two old jobs back, picked up another job, and at night I’d work afterhours at Sicilian Ice Cream on College. I needed to raise $100,000 to open my own restaurant and I came just shy.
When did you know for sure this was your calling? Tim Keller’s got a great way of discerning calling: Do you have the ability to do it, are your friends and community telling you to do it, and thirdly is there the opportunity to do it? So those three things are what you look for. I kept those in the back of my mind and thought okay, I’ve got the first two, I have the ability, I have the money, I have my entire community saying, “Do this because we’re sick and tired of hearing you tell us you’re going to open a burger joint,” and the third thing I didn’t have was the opportunity, I couldn’t find a spot.
But obviously, you eventually did? Yes, but it was hard, and I got frustrated almost to the point of giving up. I started reading the first part of 1st Samuel, where Hannah wants a child, and she’s saying to God, “I want a child and I want the child to serve you.” It got to the point where Hannah came to God and said, “I’m ready for you to give me a child now.” A whole lot of brokenness started happening within me at work and this thing clicked where I actually started to like Ruth’s Chris [Steakhouse] and I started loving my job and I looked in the mirror one morning and said, “God if I stay here the rest of my life I’m okay with it.” As soon as that happened I started telling God, “I’m ready for you to give me a burger joint now.” And the next day I found the location. I sunk every dime I had into the place
Impress your friends by ordering off The Burger Priest’s SECRET MENU. Here’s a little taste of what you can find: Noah’s ark We’ll take two, please!
Holy smokes Deep-fried jalapenos to light that mouth on fire.
Blue steel I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good tasting.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse For those who survived the Mayan apocalypse.
to the point where the day I opened, June 7, 2010, I had no money and we had to sell beef that day or we couldn’t open the next day. We sold 120 burgers, and the following day I hired three guys. Now we sell 1,500 burgers a day in each location. God’s a weird guy; it was just one of those things. Reprinted with permission from Imprint Magazine (imprintmagazine.ca).
Make Contact with God & connect with others get plugged in!! Call for Group Rates & Seasonal Discounts 877.599.5888 www.mtbakercamp.org convergemagazine.com
WEDDING Photographers that click These self employed creatives tell us why it's better to work on the weekend Chris Luk email@example.com chrisluk.com @christopherluk facebook.com/ ChristopherLukPhotography
When did you start and why? I started photographing weddings in 2008. I love weddings! Especially when you think about what marriage represents in Ephesians 5. The couple’s closest friends and family are there; it's a lovely reunion, celebrating together and having a great time. I’m so honoured to be a part of that!
What part of the wedding is your favourite to shoot?
I tear up every time I photograph a fatherdaughter dance. Especially in today’s day and age, dad is so busy working to provide for the family that it’s only now that he finally realizes his daughter has grown into a beautiful, mature woman, ready to leave his family to start her own.
firstname.lastname@example.org @jamiedelaine jamiedelaine.com jamiedelaineblog.com
When did you start and why?
What do you enjoy about your job?
In 2008, because I fell in love with photography and couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do at the time!
I love working for myself and being a part of such an important day in a couple’s life.
What are some of the challenges What part of the wedding is your fa- you have to face being in such a vourite to shoot? competitive industry? My favourite part of the wedding to shoot is portraits of the couple after the ceremony. I love the quiet time between the couple and enjoy the relaxed environment without family and guests around.
The same challenge presents itself in every business: figure out what sets you apart and spend your marketing dollars to broadcast your uniqueness.
Who would you get to photograph your wedding? We are the Parsons.
What do you enjoy about your job? When I go to work, I love that I have the amazing honour of documenting moments that may one day save a marriage. When my couples look at their photographs, they remember, “I promise to love you for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, until death do us part.”
What are some of the challenges you face being in THIS competitive industry? The greatest challenge I face is in helping couples understand that I am not just another “vendor” to check off their list. Choosing your photographer is an important investment for this generation and the next — make sure you absolutely love the style, purpose, personality, and character of your photographer.
Who would you get to photograph YOUR wedding? My wife and I were married in September 2011 where my talented friend and colleague, Geehae Jeong, photographed our wedding! I love Silvana Frammartino (Impulse Photography) and Erik Clausen (formerly known as Poser). Their creative artistic work blows my mind and their passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ is so inspiring.
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Josh Yong When did you start and why? I came across Jamie Delaine Photography from a friend’s wedding about four years ago. That caught my eye and it all started from there.
What part of the wedding is your favourite to shoot? My favourite part of a wedding day would be the portrait session with the bride and groom. I get to capture moments in the couple’s lifetime that will be remembered for quite a long time and something that will bring so much joy to everyone around them.
What do you enjoy about your job? Each couple has their own unique personality. The candid moments that show so much joy and happiness, that’s what I enjoy the most about what I do. Also the details from how the bridal party matches to the centre pieces at the reception. Every wedding is different!
email@example.com 778-855-6787 facebook.com/ joshesphotography
What are some of the challenges you face being in THIS competitive industry? Equipment has become so much cheaper and accessible. Every other day there is someone wanting to become a wedding photographer. Standing out from the rest or having my own unique style really helps, and just being really genuine and passionate about what I do, rather than it being a job. Which is pretty much why I am still doing what I do today. It’s a passion and a lifestyle!
Who would you get to photograph YOUR wedding? There are quite a few on my mind. But just off the top of my head, I'll say Jose Villa, Ryan Ray Photography, and Troy Grover Photographers. Of course only if I can afford them when I do get married.
Geoff Heith firstname.lastname@example.org weddingsinmotion.ca
When did you start and why? We started five years ago because we got married and had a videographer shoot our wedding in a style we didn’t know was possible and realized it was awesome! Plus free food at the reception!
What part of the wedding is your favourite to shoot? Hard to say, there are so many different parts that are amazing. I love ceremonies when couples write their own vows, receptions are great when there are good speeches. I love anything in a wedding that is more than just decorations and fluff, I like emotion and “real.”
What do you enjoy about your job? We get to share in some pretty intimate moments with some pretty awesome people. Oh, and the reception food is usually off the hook!
What are some of the challenges you face being in THIS competitive industry? The biggest challenge is staying relevant and fresh amid the influx of hundreds of photographers and videographers trying to give it a go almost everyday (it seems like more sometimes). Also, occasionally there is bad food at the reception!
Who would you get to photograph YOUR wedding? In Vancouver my favourites are Michael Wachniak and Nordica Photography. Outside of Vancouver I‘d do Voltron of Awesomeness (aka Jeff Newsom), and if I did video . . . 100 per cent Stillmotion.
JOHN FLUEVOG The Creative Cobbler By Shara Lee “I think we need to decide as people who we are. Before you walk out the door in the morning you need to decide who you are. What your values are, what makes up your own unique DNA. But within that, where’s your framework? What’s important to you, what do you want your life to look like, where do you want to be in 10, 20, and 30 years from now? I think in the morning when you wake up you need to think about that. Because it sets the tone as to who you are and it makes you authentic as a person.” — John Fluevog
His flagship store in Vancouver’s Gastown is situated in the negative space between two old buildings. Inside it’s spacious and studio-like with a cement floor, brick walls, and a glass ceiling. Light pours in, even on this grey day. The bottom level hosts the showroom where shoes are placed on low tables made from old growth oak trees. There is ample room for wandering between aisles, a large L-shaped couch in the corner, and wooden benches for customers to use. A staircase leads up to a loft where Fluevog’s design team works. Upstairs are rows of desks, each with their own walls for pinning ideas and inspirational material. A huge selection of men’s and women’s shoes line one wall — some conceptual designs, others awaiting their debut in future collections. The workspace has a relaxed vibe with employees dressed in smart casual attire. There are also some very well behaved dogs who seem to enjoy snoozing under desks, occasionally taking a romp into the showroom to greet patrons. I meet a shy black lab mix named Maggie and a tan French bulldog named Peanut. It looks like an appealing place to work.
Leading the band
rom John Fluevog you can expect to find women’s boots that look “safe” from the front, but from the side reveal hourglassshaped heels. Shoes from his men’s collection are equally unique and feature ultra pointy toe tips and super scrunchy creases where the foot would naturally lift. The names of the shoes also stand out, like Edwardian Hamburger or Queen Transcendent. Although Fluevog is a trendsetter, his eccentric style is not for those who religiously follow mainstream fashion trends. The world may never have known Fluevog’s designs if he hadn’t taken a job at a Vancouver shoe store called Sheppard’s back in the ’70s. It was there that he met Peter Fox, his first business partner. The two joined to create the popular footwear outlet Fox & Fluevog. In 1980 when Fox went to New York, Fluevog decided to create his own brand. Since then it has taken off with celebrity fans from Alice Cooper to Madonna.
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Fluevog is wearing a purple blazer, a grey shirt, grey pants, and dark green shoes. Glasses are propped on his head. He begins our conversation by saying that lately he’s been thinking a lot about jazz and the ways in which his company operates like a jazz band. On a recent trip to Quebec City, Fluevog got the chance to take in some jazz and after the show was able to chat with one of the musicians. “I said, ‘Hey, it’s really cool how you guys interact together, how you play off each other.” Fluevog says he was quickly corrected. “A lot of people think it’s a democracy . . . it’s not. Somebody always sets the tone and the mood,” the musician replied. The shoe tycoon thought it was a great analogy for his design team. “I need them but I need to take leadership, and I need them to play in my band. We can’t be so out of sync. We’ve got to be playing the right music together,” he tells me. Fluevog, who was raised in an evangelical home and still maintains his belief in God applies the jazz analogy to his own life. “We’re in a band and we need to know what the tone of it is, we need to buy into it . . . I think that the idea of us working together as a group, as a body as it were, is just such an awesome concept and so powerful.” Photo by Carmen Bright
Authenticity I can tell that Fluevog is a bit hesitant to talk about his faith. Perhaps it’s the way he enunciates the “n” in the word Christian. I can only assume it’s because he doesn’t necessarily want to be branded with the “Christian” label, not because he doesn’t have strong beliefs, but because once you are open with the C-word, people tend to put you in a box. To his credit, he does a good job of infusing his beliefs into many aspects of his company culture. His entire website is brimming with biblical references. Even Fluevog’s products proudly proclaim his faith. He has shoes called Angels that offer the tagline, "Satan resistant" and men’s belts with the familiar scripture from Ephesians, “Stand firm with the belt of truth” inscribed on the reverse. I have no doubt that it is this devotion to authenticity, to being exactly who he is without wavering, that has gained him such a loyal following. Everything he does is distinctly Fluevog. He does what he wants even if that means creating shoes that many simply brush off as weird. It’s because of his off beat style (creating designs that few if any designers would dare undertake) that he has attracted a following of fashion misfits. Customers rave about his shoes. “John Fluevog is like my Santa,” wrote one commenter on a popular user review and recommendation website. “As a self-proclaimed quirky girl, there are few shoes that rock the off-beat harder than a pair of vintage-inspired Fluevogs,” wrote another. It seems almost laughable now, but in his earlier days Fluevog wasn’t aware that he had original ideas. “It didn’t occur to me,” he says. “But I have found that being more of myself has been a good thing, a better thing. And I think being more of yourself is actually an act of faith because you’re believing that what God has made is very unique and beautiful so therefore you’re allowed to be more of yourself.” Because of his distinct style, Fluevog doesn’t always get the mainstream press
“If you’re too full of your own ideas and your own thoughts and all about yourself, you’re not going to be available to hear.” convergemagazine.com
that other brands do, but he tries not to let this bother him. “I cannot judge my worthiness or my identity by that. I need to do what I feel I need to do. I need to do the right thing for me. And fortunately I have enough people that like my stuff that it keeps it up and going. I actually don’t need the press,” he acknowledges. I tell Fluevog that I recall seeing his shoes in my boyfriend’s GQ magazine. I think he’s just being a bit modest when he says he doesn’t get much press. “I do occasionally. But I don’t really go after it. And it’s nice when it happens,” he finally admits.
He says he doesn’t.
“It’s the order in which we put things together that makes them original. It’s not so much that I made and thought of that idea from scratch. I adapted,” he explains. He then walks over to his wall of shoes and fetches a black patent pump with a clawfoot heel and a Mary Jane strap. He calls this shoe Queen Transcendent. I immediately understand what he’s talking about. I’ve seen the clawfoot shape on old bath tubs and the Mary Jane is probably one of the most iconic of children’s footwear styles, but I had never seen the two used together until now. “The shape of that heel is nothing new,” he says. “I didn’t design that shape, but I put it on a shoe.”
Fashion as a frivolity There are many people who view designers as sort of a selfish group of people. Designs, after all, don’t help eradicate hunger, aid the homeless, or cure any diseases. Fluevog does, however, think that they have a major responsibility; and that is to be honest. “What designers do is they pick up on feelings and emotions that are swirling around. There’s this concept that ideas float around out there. I don’t know how else to put it. And you need to be available to be able to hear them,” Fluevog explains. “If you’re too full of your own ideas and your own thoughts and all about yourself, you’re not going to be available to hear.” He goes on to say that good design should be able to “change our perception” but that it should also resonate with people. If nobody likes it, nobody will buy it.
It’s hard to come up with an original idea these days; it seems that everything has been done. I for one will fully confess to desperately imitating the writing styles of those I admire. How does Fluevog come up with such original ideas?
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The future I’ve always wondered how people who have already achieved so much stay so motivated. When goals are achieved, what’s left? Fluevog says he doesn’t have goals per se, but he does have a picture of what he’d like his life to look like. I ask him if he can describe what this picture looks like to him. “Not easily,” he says, “It’s something to do with transcending. It’s something to do with coming to a place where I’m not quite connected. Where I’m less and less worried about what we call earthly things. Because I’m going to die in not too long and I love the idea of being able to connect to creation and the creator.”
Fluevog’s life advice is simple: know what you want out of life. He brings it all back to the jazz analogy. “If you want to play in a band you’d better come and join the band. If you don’t want to be in a band that’s okay. You can go off and have a solo career.” He says to look at the bigger picture. “Your goals should be things like, ‘I want to work in a team, I want a family, I want good relationships, I want to end up at 50 years old, having said I helped some people, that I was part of a process, that I’ve done something creative in a team,’” he advises. According to Fluevog, never before has individuality been so valued in the workforce. “The biggest thing I would say to somebody starting out is you need to be yourself. It’s very difficult if you’re not that. If you’re just going to do something the same way somebody else has been doing it, that’s tough. You need to take whatever it is and put a flavour of your humanity into it, the good and the bad. You know, the good, bad, and the ugly. Make it [and] put your stamp or your thumb print into it.” Well, that’s how John Fluevog did it anyway.
Advice for the aspiring As our conversation comes to an end, I’m struggling to unearth the key factor to his success. Is it his originality? His authenticity? His faith? It turns out, it's a bit of all three.
Shoes pictured: 1) Munster 2) Rococo 3) Chop Suey 4) Pilgrim
by Lucia Frangione
Jan 25-Feb 16
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
“I believe in God the father and/or Mother Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and the big bang theory.”
By STEPHANIE IP
s soon as Drew McTaggart ral that Drew’s first thought would be finished performing, he put down to look ahead at the path now being his guitar and headed backstage laid out. With a background in busijust to catch his breath. After all, he ness, Drew ensured the business plan had just played Vancouver’s famous they made (one of the challenges in Commodore Ballroom. the competition) would get It wasn’t long before them to where they want he headed back onstage to go. The band’s next task LISTEN: where Dear Rouge, the will be to follow through on band he founded alongside their newly-funded plans. his wife Danielle, was an“We’ve always had music nounced the winner of the in our lives but never actu2012 Peak Performance al, big steps forward. This Project (a contest aimed was a serious step forward at launching the careers in quite a short amount of of some of BC’s best uptime,” said Danielle, notand-coming artists). Being ing that the formation of named the winner scored Dear Rouge was intended them a sweet $102,700 toas the couple’s last big atward career development tempt at playing music for and ensured the next chapa living. If it hadn’t panned ter of their lives will be an out, their tour-bus dreams interesting and busy one. were to be filed away. “It just happened so Now, with prize money quickly. When they anin hand, the pair wants nounced us as winners, I to do right by the people WATCH: was excited — and the next who have supported them, Dear Rouge’s feeling was, ‘holy crap,’” and they're determined to interview with recalled Drew of the lifemake their dreams come changing announcement. Converge TV and an true. audio exclusive. “We’re excited but now we “We’ve got lots to do,” have so much work to do.” Danielle said with a laugh. While others might have “No excuses,” Drew allowed themselves a bit of chimed in. “The clock time to celebrate, it’s natuofficially begins now.”
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Entrepreneur By Grayson Bain
Leadership Jazz author Max DePree once said, “The greatest thing is, at any moment, to be willing to give up who we are in order to become all that we can be.” This sentiment is one that many self-starters are all too familiar with. Grayson Bain knows this first hand. With a bit elbow grease and a lot of drive, he turned a humble Vancouver bike and hardware shop into Canada’s most prestigious bicycle manufacturing firm, Rocky Mountain Bicycles. Although there is no roadmap for guaranteed success, Bain shares some of the traits that have both helped him and hurt him in business.
traits that led to my success
1. I didn’t settle with mediocrity I’ve never liked doing business in the traditional way, so when my dad bought the bike shop in the ’70s I found I really didn’t want to
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“mind the store” as he asked me to. Instead I wanted to shake up the whole retail bicycle industry. We started to import bike parts from Europe that most riders in Vancouver had never seen.
2. I am a Contrarian I thought that the best way to make a bike that could be tough enough to take on the West Coast mountains was not by conforming to the present 10-speed skinny-tire trends. Instead of working through the present policies that were applied to retail stores by the distributors, I figured the regulations just did not have to apply to us. My team and I ended up building the first mountain bike in Canada. Sometimes breaking the rules is how new opportunities open up.
3. I am Thrifty I have a lifelong record of resisting expenditures,
keeping overheads low and allowing room for expansion in profits to grow the business. I live by this quote from John Wesley: “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
4. I took risks Risks are the norm for most start-ups; unfortunately I was not born with guts. I went to business school and read lots of books to learn how to do it but there’s no manual. Risk in a business is plotting a course between the “known” unknowns, and the really scary unknowns.
5. I liked company Entrepreneurs who fly solo make me nervous. The combined skillsets of two or three founders make a recipe for success, but finding the right partners is key. Often my partners were long-time friends, and others were employees I hired. I have had some relationships that did not work initially but then blossomed, and others that started sweetly but ended up toxic. But ultimately, partners in business are very valuable.
traits that led to many disasters
1. I doubt myself too often Even after my 30+ years of success I question how people perceive me and underestimate what I am able to do. Doubt stops me from constructing and creating new ventures. Doubt hinders me from confidently speaking and acting out of the wisdom I have acquired.
2. I get bored I get excited about bright and shiny new projects — usually before their time. There was nothing wrong with doing new things, but not when it was at the cost of running all the activities of a $15 million company. It’s easy to neglect
day-to-day operations when you’re more excited about dreaming up new ideas that customers will love. In a leadership role, however, I need to give my time and energy to both.
3. I can be too naive When I see a way to help, I usually offer to do so — even when that means helping my competitors. I feel good about helping other companies, but this has led me to give away free intellectual property. On more than one occasion in the bicycle business,
others have finished — and profited from — what I had started.
4. I wanted to prove people wrong I was picked on and maybe even bullied during all five years of high school, and my grade 12 academic counsellor summed up those years of torment with these words: “Bain, you’ll never amount to much.” Maybe he had just had a bad day, or maybe I didn’t answer his questions about my aspirations, but I vowed to prove him wrong. Unfortunately, this vow led me to crave success — even at the cost of things that should matter more.
5. I Put work first I have a photo of my wife’s extended family displayed in our home, and of our 40 or so relatives, I am the only one missing. I was called away to a public relations photo shoot in Whistler Village and missed the opportunity to be in my own family’s photo. My wife’s father passed away later that year, and that photo reminds me how foolish I was to miss that very important day.
Grayson Bain is the past president of Rocky Mountain Bicycles and currently heads WOW Ventures, a not-for-profit leadership and mentorship organization that trains local entrepreneurs to conduct profitable business with sustainable social impact in developing nations. He also offers mentorship courses to young professionals through City in Focus and through his role with the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Connect with him at wowventures.org.
the need feed
More than Half of Canadian charities are now using social media. But are new technologies more helpful or hurtful to non-profits and missionaries? Lauren Bentley and Ashley Chapman take on the debate. By Lauren Bentley
Helpful: Get online or you're going to drown
t’s an exciting time for the charity sector. New technology makes it possible to court new donors broadly, capitalize on unrivalled storytelling potential, and accomplish more with less. When I last checked in with Love Global founder Darian Kovacs, the organization had just accepted 65 new missionaries to its fundraising platform, bringing Love Global’s total supported missionaries to more than 120. The non-profit is an entirely web-based enterprise that uses storytelling and donor engagement to support missionaries “on the fringe” — basically, those without a traditional sending organization backing them. The result? Since the organization's inception in January 2012, $330,000 has been raised online, in addition to hundreds of photos, videos, and texts being shared digitally with supporters. “We’ve seen some amazing projects that would normally get overlooked as they didn’t get a commercial on TV or have [funding for] fancy mail-outs or get the needed prayer base,” said Kovacs. Traditionally, missionaries would leave for years, checking in with “sending churches” once or twice a decade and maybe circulating an annual update through their agency. Now, “People can give to a need immediately and see it on their mobile devices and react to needs much more quickly than before,” said Kovacs. Digital technology isn’t just beneficial for Love Global — it’s essential. And as the Web moves from being strange new territory to life-as-weknow-it, it’s imperative that non-profits and missions agencies get on board.
Changing for the better
nd why shouldn’t they? Even though what it means to live life in a digital world is still being clarified, we can already see the undeniable benefits of technology for the charitable sector. For the last three years, I was the communications coordinator at a small, missions-minded non-profit in the Seattle area. Like many non-profits, we were short of staff and long on work — which meant that in addition to communications, on any given day I was the office manager, executive assistant, customer service rep, maintenance staff, and IT department (turn computer off. Turn computer back on. Pray the problem is fixed). About two years in, my boss and I began talking about a digital rebrand: new website, Facebook, the works. Soon I was overseeing a website overhaul and had added “social media consultant” to my title. I was feeling stretched. Many non-profits face similar struggles when it comes to embracing digital technology. Can we really expect orga-
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nizations who are tackling the world’s burdens, rarely with enough staff or funds, to also manage a Twitter account? Is technology really that beneficial for charities? Brady Josephson, a fundraising professor at North Park University and charity consultant, is unequivocal. “Absolutely. In all cases,” he says. I agree. For many reasons — from the extended reach of organizations to donor engagement to the emphasis on storytelling — plugged-in non-profits are better non-profits.
The next generation of givers
he typical donor where I worked in Seattle fit into a certain category — a category made up mostly of elderly widows with money to burn. Most needed their questions answered by phone, and many gave their gifts at our main annual fundraiser. So why build them a website? Because the way donors interact with their organizations is changing — and frankly,
these traditional donors won’t be around forever. Josephson says that more than 50 per cent of all potential donors go to an organization’s website first to learn about them. That number varies study to study; some, such as the Cygnus Donor Survey, put it over 60 per cent. A non-profit’s website, according to Hope Research’s “Money for Good” study, is a donor’s primary source for information. “[It’s] where they learn and engage,” Josephson says. And that’s donors of every age group. When the number is broken down to Millennials, aka the next generation of donors, 65 per cent say they always visit a non-profit’s website first to learn about it, according to the Millennial Impact Report. In addition, Millennials are more likely to give to new causes, especially ones their friends or family share with them. This sharing often happens on social media. Josephson notes that even older generations, including seniors, are beginning to engage online. This doesn’t mean Illustrations by Jacob Kownacki
non-profits should abandon print and never send another thank you card or fundraising letter; but it does mean that integrating new media into a fundraising strategy is now essential for longterm survival and to continually reach new donors.
Telling the story
aving a story to tell is at the heart of every non-profit and missions organization. Using digital technologies, these organizations can share this foundational asset — a good story — like never before. Instead of a quarterly newsletter, donors can watch videos of their money being put to work and interact with those carrying out the work they support. At Love Global, this means supporters can follow what their missionary is doing on a day-to-day basis, creating a relationship centred on the cause that brings supporter and supported together. And, Josephson points out, when organizations engage supporters online, donors can participate in the story as well, adding their own voices to the mix.
More with less
nother major benefit of the online age? “You can get found,” says Josephson. Instead of using all your funds for a mailing campaign that only reaches donors who already know an organization, the Web allows non-profits to be found by donors themselves. Even a small non-profit like the one I worked with can now reach many more potential donors with very little capital. Maybe not every charity will be able to hire social media consultants to build a colossal Twitter following, but anyone can start a blog or Facebook page and begin to build relationships with donors. And donors themselves can do more with less as well. I may not have much money to donate up front, but I can become an online advocate for the causes I believe in through the media I use anyway. The only cost to me is my time.
“It gets really noisy,” says Josephson. But he contends that technology isn’t the culprit — it’s merely a tool that reflects our society back to us on a bigger scale in a more public space. In the old days, big donors got their names on a building. Now, any donor can get their name on a Facebook wall. Sure, the digital landscape means there are more slacktivists, but with the so-called “barrier of entry” for involvement so low, many people are being reached who would never have donated at all. And, as Josephson points out, who’s to say that today’s slacktivist isn’t tomorrow’s responsible, inspiring donor or charity advocate? With technology, charitable organizations can meet donors in ways previously impossible — and donors can engage with non-profits meaningfully, becoming advocates who add value beyond just giving funds. The online world is an imperfect space that’s still being sorted out — we’re only less than a decade into using most digital technologies — but for non-profits to thrive, they’ll need to get online. Once again, Josephson doesn’t hesitate: “Get on board or you’re going to drown.”
of the top 1,000 charities are using social media in some form.
Most Commonly-Used Sites
821 Likes 888 Followers 1
David Suzuki Foundation 185,000
Get on board
f course, there are some drawbacks to every non-profit “talking” at once online. Now we have to deal with cluttered news feeds, negative comments, and our every acquaintance sharing about how much they’ve recently donated. convergemagazine.com
Hurtful: New media sends the wrong message By Ashley Chapman
t all started with a donkey named Jack. Don’t overthink it or anything, but that unfortunate ass is about to get me into a lot of trouble. I’m not some Anti-Xerox vigilante on a quest to outlaw the use of technology in non-profits and missions. I don’t want charities (or the communities they serve) to suffer by ignoring the shifting trends in business. I’m not advocating for nonprofits and missionaries to take the martyr route of constantly being underfunded and improperly staffed because they can’t bear to spend a cent on fundraising. But I can’t help but notice some unintended consequences to the charitable sector’s adoption of social media and other new How we choose technologies that both non-profits and supporters should critically consider.
The Non-profit Burger Kingdom
hen you support a missionary or charity, you have the privilege of being part of something that — wait for it — was never meant to be about you. This might not seem shocking to anyone who still receives two update letters a year from that church family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it can be an entirely different message to donors being “courted” or “retained” through online messaging. These donors are treated as kings in a “Have It Your Way” world, except the new offer is “Give It Your Way.” When I started working in an international development non-profit, a coworker told me the story of Jack the donkey. Apparently, a supporter who wanted to fund an animal for an agricultural program also wanted to send along some money for a customized collar so the donkey could bear his name. Whether the story is true or a development legend “Did you hear about the “Jack”-ass they sent to the field?” I soon realized that similar sentiments were common. Social media and digital technology are designed to give consumers exactly the experience they want. For non-profits to fit into this landscape, they can’t upset the rules of what makes the medium so successful. This takes several forms, including catering to donor preference and convenience, framing supporters as heroes, and packaging complex inter-
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Think of the last few times you gave to a charity. What factors swayed your decision to donate? We asked around and discovered the most common reasons people choose to support an organization or missionary.
1. Personal connection This was the number one response. People mentioned the importance of either having a direct connection with an organization or missionary, or hearing a recommendation from a trusted friend or public figure with a personal connection.
2. How they help The second most common factor was an organization’s mission and operational strategy. Does the organization address a problem’s root causes or just focus on bandaid solutions? Are programs sustainable and effective? Do I agree wholeheartedly with the cause?
3. Money management Rounding out the top three was an organization’s financial accountability and efficiency. Donors want to know that the bulk of their money is supporting the cause, not lining some executive’s pocket. Some donors evaluate this using third-party charity ranking sites, and others look to the annual report or public reputation of the organization.
national stories to be compatible with a Western view of the world. Then there’s also the marketing tactic of letting people automatically post about their donation to their social media accounts, a clever blend of donor narcissism and non-profit promotion. But should this even be an option for Christians who are told to “not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” when giving to the needy? (Matthew 6:3). Surely we should be called towards a different kind of giving — one that’s not all about the donor.
follow several non-profit organizations through social media. Sometimes I’ll “like” their posts or retweet a funding request. But here’s a not-so-shocking confession: I don’t donate towards many of the non-profits I’m connected to online, and I know I’m not the only one. I used to moderate a popular Facebook page for a non-profit, and there was nothing like introducing a new funding opportunity that would rack up doubledigit “likes” in the first five minutes then not garner a single donation all day on our internal fund-o-meter. In fact, very few names from our Facebook page ever showed up in donation records. One American blogger who actually defends slacktivism compares it to a first kiss, saying that not all first kisses lead to
babies, but few babies are born without that all-important first step. Her analogy is a good one, but many non-profits don’t need an army of armchair cheerleaders; they need actual donations to keep doing their good work. All I do for most of the organizations I follow is increase their follower numbers and therefore their credibility — I appear involved but it doesn’t cost anything or lead to much. It’s the worst kind of first kiss. It’s this cheap interaction that frustrates Steph Limage, an independent missionary working to relocate and house at-risk street youth with her husband in Haiti. “If we have to build a social media strategy into our campaigns for helping humans, it’s a sad world,” she says. “I can understand it for a consumer-based business model, but for humanitarian aid?” It’s not that she’s a Luddite or even clumsy on a Mac. Limage is an accomplished filmmaker and the Marketing Director for Canada’s largest skateboarding and snowboarding apparel company. She’s done social media consulting for churches in the past, and her personal ministry blog gets “hits through the roof.” Her social media pages boast photos and video updates that get effusive “You’re so awesome!” comments, but for all the online traction she barely has a handful of regular supporters. The small supporter base is made up of friends, relatives, and a church congregation; relationships she has outside of social media. That’s not to say that online contacts don’t pledge to support her projects — they do. She just seldom sees the money, and she has a hunch as to why. “It’s because they’re talking to you on social media,” she explains. “It’s very emotionsbased and zealous [but] there’s no accountability or follow-through.” Although Limage continues to use social media in an attempt to fundraise for her and her husband’s ministry, she finds the process draining. She also has serious qualms about using a seemingly incongruous marketing tool for life-anddeath needs. “These are humans that need help,” she says emphatically. “I’ll post a video of people starving to death who are forced to eat mud to ease the hunger pangs, but people have been so inundated that I’m afraid they don’t seem notice anymore. It blends into the posts on Facebook about the cool movie they saw or a photo of a cute newborn baby.”
One more point of false comparison
ast year I wrote an article for Converge explaining why a non-profit’s administration rate (the percentage of donations spent on overhead costs) is largely meaningless as a metric for comparing charities. In the same way, the quality of an organization’s social media presence doesn’t guarantee much either. The charity with the most shareable web platform might not actually do the best work in the field, and the missionary with the indie-scored HD videos might impact the same amount of lives as the old couple who send a few emails a year. In fact, the professional photography, slick videos, and customized websites that may compel us to share or donate are costly and usually fall under an organization’s overhead costs. There’s nothing wrong with this, but we should pause to reflect on the inconsistency. Of course the best case scenario is that the most effective organizations and missionaries would also use the best that new technology has to offer. The worst case scenario is that donors would be impressed by organizations that put more effort into social marketing
than into working with the people they aim to help — effectively placing their donors above their constituents. Another frightening scenario is that organizations might prioritize handouts or physical development projects like buildings (which are easy to photograph, film, and tweet about) at the expense of focusing on the long-term, slow processes often required to make lasting change in development, missions, or justice work. It would be ideal if stories could always be shared without any mediation, technological or otherwise. Mediation usually oversimplifies, depersonalizes, and encourages a power differential. But mediation — everything from print materials to television spots to Tumblr blogs — is here to stay. Nonprofits shouldn’t remain in the Dark Ages, but marketers and donors need to be cognizant of possible unintended messages being sent through new media. When a media channel caters to our every consumer preference, plays right into our worldview, and demands nothing beyond what we find convenient, the technology is inherently communicating far more than the sum of its 140 characters. Just ask Jack the donkey.
A better son or daughter Confronting the Expectations of Pastors' Kids By Chelsea Batten
Illustration By Jacob Kownacki
“I think that the church put expectations on my parents, resulting in my parents being extremely self-conscious with every thing they (and their kids) did.” “In many ways, I feel like I'm still a kid who’s angry at my parents. That becomes less and less defensible the older you get. The problem is that I was a really good kid for a long time, so it feels new, you know?”
Ikids. I knew it before Katy Perry and Daniel
always knew there was a thing about pastors’
Tosh came along to shoot our expectations full of cherry-sized holes. I knew it before I’d ever heard of Aretha Franklin or Alice Cooper. What I’m not sure of is how I knew. My parents being pillar-of-the-church types, I grew up on familiar terms with both pastors’ and missionaries’ kids (PKs and MKs, for brevity’s sake). We spent holidays together sometimes. We went to each other’s birthday parties. We secretly peed in the pools of their furlough homes, loaned to them by other church members for their summers off the field. On occasion, my PK and MK friends were snotty and mean. I don’t remember feeling surprised by this — experience showed me that they were normal kids, with consciences of average softness. But I do remember feeling an inhibition about being mean back to them. Maybe I was afraid my sin would find me out, that if they tattled on me, their
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parents would get back to my parents and the repercussions would be more serious, because when a pastor is involved, it can never be just a personal problem; it’s a church problem. Maybe even a spiritual problem. As a teenager, I overheard some adults gossiping about some of my childhood friends. I learned that Dr. Franklin and his wife couldn’t seem to help their anorexic daughter, no matter how many counsellors they saw. And Jason and Jonathan, the sons of our church’s most dynamic missionaries, were caught using drugs shortly after returning from Papua New Guinea. I was surprised by these revelations, but I was equally surprised by the tone of inevitability with which they were told. It seemed that my friends had lived under a collectively bated breath, as people waited to see which side of the line they’d fall on. Whether we saw it coming or not, feared it, or had never once thought about it, we all wanted to know what had happened. Something, surely, must have.
“It was cool when [dad] first became a pastor. Because pastor’s kids get a lot of attention. Everybody wants to play with you and be your friend. But I guess as you get older, something else happens.”
fter one failed attempt after another to get any PKs or MKs to talk to me for this article, I jokingly asked one that I’d tracked down if they were sworn to secrecy upon turning 18. He responded seriously, “It’s possible.” Regardless of any Freemason-like bond of secrecy, it seems likely that many PKs and MKs just don’t want to answer any more questions about their upbringing. The ones that I did manage to convince to talk with me seemed all too familiar with the stereotype, perhaps some even agree with it. As one of them told me: “Either you’re super zealous, or super rebellious. You follow exactly your father or mother’s footsteps, or you go completely off the deep end. I don’t see that many middle-of-the-road people when it comes to pastors’ kids.” Another put it this way: “Many are either in ministry, or into sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” I find it weird that this stereotype seems to be the source of its own continuity, like a perpetual motion machine. One PK told me that as a kid she attended a church-run school that often invited prodigal PKs to come back and give their testimony. The message they delivered, as she remembers it, went something like this: “Choosing to live in the secular world [means] you’re going to have an abortion, and you’re never going to feel whole again, and your life is going to suck from now on.” Another guy, who grew up as both a PK and MK, explained that he was always unwilling to be regarded as an example of what his father taught in church. “I don’t have any illusions that I live in a way that functions well,” he told me. “I don’t want anyone looking at me as an example.” Right or wrong, pastors are often assumed to be the best Christian in their church — they are, after all, meant to teach the rest of us how to be better Christians. Their children are, by extension, assumed to be evidence of the best Christian parenting — and most of the children are acutely aware of this. Maybe this awareness is what makes PKs and MKs choose between the church and the world more quickly, whereas most people are content to ride the fence. With so much hanging on your behavior — possibly even your parent’s job — I can see how it would be a relief to either exceed the expectations, or else shatter them, as soon as possible. But that’s coming from me, admittedly inclined toward extremes. There are plenty of PKs and MKs who keep their upbringing on the down-low as long as they can, hoping to avoid the scrutiny they grew up with. “I think people just assume that you are super good, and have it all together. Or they expect something of you. Or they expect you to live a certain life. At least with older people, they expect you to fit the mold of being a perfect Christian.” “I never wanted to be categorized, especially in high school and college, as a pastor’s kid. Not because there was some stigma. I just wanted to be [thought of as] normal.”
Tbecause MKs live outside the immediate scrutiny of the North American
he PKs generally agree that the MKs have an easier gig. Maybe, they say, it’s
church. The expectations are between them and their parents; native people are unlikely to judge them for getting an ear pierced or for trying a cigarette. Or maybe it’s because MKs see their parents sacrificing their own comfort, with none of the rewards accorded to clergy in the Western world. Maybe it’s because MKs don’t constantly have to watch their peers do things that they can’t do without hurting their parents’ reputation. For an insider’s view on this, I talked with the parents of a childhood MK friend. One of their daughters (my friend’s older sister) decided upon reaching adulthood that she didn’t believe what she'd been raised in. They didn’t go into details, so I don’t know if she did anything spectacular, or just left the church. She’s now married and raising her first child. The parents are happy that the relationship with their daughter is intact; they’re also grieved that she doesn’t believe.
“For me as a pastor’s kid, it’s incredibly hard to try to read the Bible without this felt board Sunday school filter on it.” “I’m not dumb enough to throw out the belief system, like a lot of pastors’ kids and church kids do. My thing with not going to church is . . . it’s like family business. I can’t go without going, ‘Oh, they really could do that PowerPoint presentation better.’”
Lmusician named Joshua who told
ast year I was interviewing a rock
me a story about finding out the secret religious back-story of Marcus Mumford, of Mumford and Sons fame.
“We were talking, and he was like, ‘Oh, it was such a blessing.“ My praydar went off and I was like, ‘You’re a pastor's kid.’” After a moment, I said, “Praydar?” He nodded, explaining, “There’s a whole terminology.” As it turned out, he also was a pastor’s kid. And I remember thinking, “I knew it.” Joshua told me that it never quite leaves you: the consciousness of God, the self-consciousness of sin, the framework of good and evil and then that thing in the middle — the “not good.” As in, “That movie is not good,” or “That music is not good,” or “Those friends are not good influences.” “What they meant by not good,” he said, “was that it had sex in it. And it’s like, well, the world has sex in it, you know?” “I was like, ‘This guy’s totally a pastor’s kid.’ Because he’s so offensive, so over the line, in a way like [he’s] trying to. And I know that well — ‘I’m going to be a real boy! I’ll swear more than all the other boys.’”
“Everything they told me I shouldn’t do, or are bad, are the things that I’d later find out are fun! Whether it is good for me or not.”
Acome pastors of all kinds of churchll kinds of people are going to be-
es, and end up having all kinds of kids, who end up reacting to the church and the world in all kinds of ways.
One PK I talked with said he enjoyed his childhood in the church, but nevertheless has lived his life systematically convergemagazine.com
It must be hard to admit to your parents that what they’ve devoted their lives to doesn’t mean as much to you as it does to them.
testing the limits of what is spiritually permissible. Another MK was fairly resentful of the lifestyle rules (she called them “ministry guidelines”) imposed on her family, but the uneasy peace she made with her limitations grew into a broader acceptance of others’ differences, both in the church and outside it. One guy loved the constant presence in his home of people who sought his parents’ counsel, and looks forward to making in-home ministry a part of his kids’ lives. Another guy said that that same experience, and the exposure to problems in supposedly happy Christian homes, has made him deeply opposed to ever getting married or having kids. I spoke with only one person who said that she thrived on her upbringing as a pastor’s kid. Perversely, she ended up losing her faith at a Christian college. “I was afraid to rebel,” she says. “I was afraid of becoming that story.” When she talked to people about what she was going through, they wrote her off, telling her she was going through a rebellious stage. It was a completely inaccurate diagnosis, she says; there was nothing she wanted to rebel against. In fact, she wanted to remain within the comforting embrace of the church. “I was super cozy there. I used to be so celebrated, the darling of the family and the community.” Today, she runs into people she went to church and school with, and they invariably say things like, “What happened? I heard you went off the deep end.” The question frustrates her, partly because of its assumptions. She didn’t get pregnant or involved with drugs; she didn’t even get any tattoos. She wasn’t angry at the church, or at God. She just didn’t believe in him anymore. The question also frustrates her because she doesn’t have an answer. She doesn’t know what happened, besides that all the theology she’d grown up with stopped making sense. “Pastors’ kids are held to a little bit higher standard, so it’s easier to make us a target because it reflects on [our] parents. For someone who’s a fireman, their kids don’t have a stereotype to live up to. Really, it doesn’t matter — it’s just what people make it. It’s just not an easy gig, and you don’t sign up for it.” “My dad always said that if he was ever half the dad his father was, he’d be a success. That’s how I feel too about my dad.”
Ma thing that happens, to pastors’ kids. Maybe we’re
aybe that’s our mistake — assuming that there’s a reason,
mistaken in assuming that being parented by a person who makes their living off the Bible ought to guarantee ownership of the gospel message.
Maybe growing up in ministry is more akin to learning a language. PKs and MKs have an in-depth education, eighteen years long, in all that the church holds most sacred. Whether they want to excel or rebel, they know exactly what will make for the most effective campaign. They also have an insider’s perspective on the mechanics of religion. Many of us might regard the clergy, the worship service, and the life devoted to gospel preaching as something of a sacred mystery. But PKs practically live in the church; and many MKs literally do. Questioning the assumptions you’re raised with is an essential part of maturing. (Even the Bible anticipates that children will ask their parents, “Why do we do this?” about religious practices.) But questioning is a trickier business for PKs.
44 | CONVERGE. jan-feb
“I was somebody who always questioned things,” one PK told me, “and that’s something that my father could not appreciate at all. That is a big part of why I ran into problems later. I don’t know if it’s just human nature or because I’m inquisitive. Nobody defined certain things for me, and they couldn’t back it up with anything other than ‘I said so.’” For this particular PK, organized religion is dependent on ignorance and its attendant fear and neediness. People who feel themselves in danger of going to hell — or of just ruining their lives — will give a lot of money to someone who has salvific answers for them. Another PK told me that this emphasis on having answers for every doubt short-circuits real faith. He says it's what turned him away from the church. “The search for those answers is incredibly important. You want to know you’re doing it only because you wanted to do it. Which is why I get so frustrated with the rigid do’s and don’ts of the church.” As a pastor’s kid he says he was expected accept the answers blindly. “I just feel an inevitability. Like a Jonah thing. I’ve got the ‘knowing that I’ll be judged’ thing down. I’m conscious of that all the time. But . . . I haven’t made that turn yet.” “Maybe that’s what’s in a lot of pastors’ kids minds when they rebel: ‘One day I’ll go back, and he’ll forgive me.’”
Ibelieve what He says about Himself. In some ways, it
know what it’s like to admit to God that you really don’t
must be even harder to admit to your parents that what they’ve devoted their lives to doesn’t mean as much to you as it does to them; that you don’t believe their religion is true and you’d rather do something different. But knowing how people would react, maybe you’d just be quiet about it, as long as you could. That, of course, is assuming you didn’t believe. If you did, there’s the inherent tendency to judge yourself by your parents’ standard. If you saw your pastor parent as a bad Christian, you might want to be so much better; if they were good, you hope to rise to the bar they’ve set. Maybe that’s the thing with PKs and MKs — that they aren’t measured just by their potential. They’re measured by the bars set by the church, by their parents, and by what a pastor’s kid is supposed to be. You’ll be better, you’ll be smarter And more grown up, and a better daughter or son And a real good friend You’ll be awake, you’ll be alert, you’ll be positive, though it hurts And you’ll laugh and embrace all your friends You’ll be a real good listener, you’ll be honest, you’ll be brave You’ll be handsome and you’ll be beautiful You’ll be happy — Rilo Kiley, “A Better Son/Daughter”
HAVE YOU HEARD? By Tracy Le
Thao and The Get Down Stay Down We The Common, February 5 Fiction Family Reunion, January 29 Composed of the musical makings of Christian rock artist Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and newgrass-folk talent Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek, Fiction Family is set to release their second full-length album entitled Reunion. The duo is joined by bassist Tyler Chester and drummer Aaron Redfield who unfold the album into a fuller sound than previous records. There is also some mixing of folk flair and classic pop. Known as a talented writer, singer, and arranger, the lyrical magic of Foreman is displayed throughout and complements Watkins’ heavenly harmonies. This album is sure to render intrigue through its richness.
Local Natives Hummingbird, January 29 LA-based band Local Natives does it again with the release of their anxiously-awaited sophomore album, Hummingbird. The 11-track album already stands strong on its single “Breakers” that embodies all the things we love about Local Natives, plus more. With the single, listeners can already hear influences of the band’s tour mates The National and Arcade Fire. With percussive pandemonium that meets the luring vocals of frontmen Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer, the new album, though distinctly Local Natives, is an evolution of sorts from Gorilla Manor. One can hear in the production of Hummingbird that the band has seamlessly transitioned from wooly and muddled to a more defined and arena-filling sound. Though the band has progressed, the group’s familiar and fawned-over ability to make haunting harmonies and to create beautiful melodies still remains. Just with more resounding foot tapping and head nodding.
46 | CONVERGE. jan-feb
Marrying both a youthful spirit and wandering wisdom, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down master tricky contrasts in We The Common, their official third album release. With a single that displays eclectic ensembles of sounds that include folkypop-tinge meets playful-takeon-fingerpicking, “Holy Roller” is the bajo-infused tune that surely communicates Thao’s initial heart toward creating the new album. We The Common magnifies the group’s fluid and charismatic guitar riffs as well as creative instrumental layering alongside the compelling vocals of frontwoman Thao. She said that the new album was about “wanting to be better and closer to people.” We the people just might also be drawn to be better by the goodness of this 12-track album. Oh, and did we mention Joanna Newsom makes an appearance?
Chris Tomlin Burning Lights, January 8 Known as one of the most influential contemporary Christian musicians, Chris Tomlin continues his dynamic leadership by shaping the culture for worship songs with his album Burning Lights. From an opening track that is strictly instrumental to the first official song that opens curious ears to rap vocals by up-and-coming artist Lecrae (Phil Wickham and Kari Jobe also make appearances on the album!), the fluidity of Tomlin’s album brings freshness and relevance while easily reshaping the conventional style of worship. The first single off the album, “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” — which has already made a name for itself on the charts, is the perfect example of Tomlin’s ability to be consistent with his inspirational music. The single portrays the similar zest of previous albums and is accented by hints of operatic pop/rock and melodies that linger in your head. Additionally, the album invites listeners to sing along with lyrics that are profound while simple and catchy while original. An air of energy is evoked from Burning Lights, be sure to breathe it in after its January release.
HAVE YOU READ? By Flyn Ritchie
rowing up in a non-Christian home, I had a vague understanding that most Christians were either Baptist (narrow-minded, obscurantist, opposed to fun) or Catholic (superstitious, not quite like us, irrelevant). When asked my religion at school — in the days when you were still allowed to ask such a question — I thought I might be either Presbyterian or Protestant. Our family had more opinions about religion than knowledge (my parents did know we were lapsed Presbyterians). That kind of ignorance is still common today, even in many churched families. All kinds of false — or at least distorted — ideas are widely accepted. Hitler was a Christian. The Bible isn’t well documented. Missionaries degraded indigenous culture. Christianity is outdated and dying out.
Some myths addressed in the book Hitler was a Christian Hitler was indeed born into a Catholic family, "just as Stalin was born an Eastern Christian, but neither of them took Christianity seriously after their early youth, and both worked covertly and overtly to destroy it."
Exposing Myths About Christianity Jeffrey Burton Russell (IVP, 2012)
Jeffrey Burton Russell has a book-long response to such mistaken assertions. Russell, who has taught the history of Christianity at a number of universities including Harvard, the University of California, and Notre Dame, points out that there are some two billion Christians in the world, and believes it is worth the while of any thinking person “to know what is true and what is not” about the still-growing religion. He tackles 145 “viral lies and legends,” encouraging his readers to distinguish between a point of view and a bias. “A point of view is open to discussion on the basis of evidence,” he notes, while a bias “is a prejudice that filters out everything that doesn’t fit a preformed conception.” The book’s chapter headings show how Russell categorizes the myths: Christianity is Dying Out; Christianity is Destructive (the longest chapter); Christianity is Stupid; Jesus and the Bible Have Been Shown to Be False; Christian Beliefs Have Been Shown to Be Wrong; Miracles are Impossible; Worldviews Can't Be Evaluated; and What's New is True.
The book is not perfect of course. In some cases, he offers very brief responses to very large questions. One page — admittedly quite a good page, so far as it goes — is probably not adequate to address the issue of whether Christianity favours the rich. Russell’s comments will not always convince even people well disposed to his approach, let alone atheists and other critics of the faith. In his discussion of missionaries’ influence on indigenous cultures, he’s not above posing this rather facile question: “It may be asked, for example, whether the Aztec custom of slitting open the bowels of slaves and prisoners for the purpose of removing their living hearts as sacrifice . . . [was] better for people than making them go to church on Sundays.” However, Exposing Myths About Christianity would be ideal for a book club, for a home group, for a youth group — or just to reach for at your bedside, one issue at a time. Even if one were to find some of Russell’s answers wanting, they still provide an ideal launching pad for discussions.
The Bible isn't well documented "The manuscripts of the Bible are more reliable than those of the classics . . . . Compare the 5,700 manuscripts of parts or all of the New Testament with the 20 or so manuscripts of a classic such as Thucydides's Peloponnesian War or the 75 of Herodotus's Persian Wars."
Missionaries degraded indigenous cultures Yes and no. He points out, for example, that Jesuit missionaries protected "the natives of Paraguay from the depredations of the secularist exploiters, who were often backed by bishops whom they had in their pockets." Christians have sometimes helped and sometimes harmed indigenous cultures.
Christianity is outdated and dying out "In Western society overall, belief in God is declining." Russell supplies plenty of reason for concern in Europe and North America. However, he also states: "At the same time that Christianity is declining in the West, it is rapidly rising in Asia, Africa and South America. . . . The idea that Christianity is dying out is obviously false."
Other useful books on this topic
Bradley R.E. Wright
Christians are Hate-filled Hypocrites . . . and Other Lies You've Been Told (Bethany House, 2010)
Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity (McClelland & Stewart, 2012)
Steve Wilkens & Don Thorsen
Everything You Know About Evangelicals is Wrong — Well, Almost Everything (Baker, 2010) convergemagazine.com
l ast word
My embarrassing-moments-per-week ratio has recently tilted in an unfortunate direction . . .
Flickr Photo by Kate Hiscock
’ve moved to a new city where the humour, common references, and social milieu are completely different. What was funny in one place is now offensive in another and no, I’m not asking if I can share your bunk when I ask what part of town you live in. If in the last few years I’ve been painting with watercolor, I’m now painting with acrylics; and while they share many similarities they aren’t comparable materials. In my embarrassing moments I’ve bumped up against those lingering doubts regarding my acceptability as a person since few of my immediate friendships still have the comfort and safety of a shared history. Many of us have learned that the kind of acceptance God gives us is solely the kind that covers our sin. God forgives all of our mistakes and wrongdoings — the things we haven’t done but should have, and the things we shouldn’t have done but did, as the prayer of confession goes. This acceptance is wonderfully freeing as we live in the power of the knowledge that nothing can separate us from God in Christ.
But if we are tempted to understand the good news of the gospel in legal terms, where Jesus is the transaction that clears our debt and gets us “into the black” of eternity, then we have tragically lost the full picture of the gospel. The full perspective of how God’s love made and makes the world reveals how coldly inappropriate it is to think of Christ’s welcome as something tendered at the bank. The greater gospel story holds a much wider understanding of what it is to be accepted by God. It’s the kind of acceptance a parent has when their child falters, an art tutor has for a new student, and a faithful lover has for their chronically-ill spouse. Many of us have spent little time basking in the kind of acceptance that God gives a girl in a new city, who is feeling as disastrous as a sugared-up toddler loose in the Macy’s china department. We all have feelings of shame that don’t come from any wrongdoing but simply from our wobbly humanity that makes costly messes here and there. (Thankfully, they often feel more costly than they actually are.) The deeper good news of the gospel says that for every teacup broken, God says to us with a loving chuckle, “It’s okay that you are wee and wild toddlers!” He offers the same finality of acceptance over every aspect of our humanity — not only all our sins but all the shards of glass that being human can and will make of a china display. Do you feel the enjoyment and safety offered by this type of acceptance from God? We all need to return repeatedly to God’s safe arms of love in our “toddler-ness.” They will expand our capacity to understand and live into the grace and love we accepted when we first acknowledged our need for a saviour. When we trust that God’s acceptance is complete and enough, instead of hiding, we will be comforted and even giggle along with God at our latest cartwheel into the gold-rimmed dinnerware.
48 | CONVERGE. jan-feb
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Published on Jan 1, 2013
Published on Jan 1, 2013
The big one zero. Converge issue 10 explores the expectations that befalls onto those who are pastors' or missions' kid. Are there commonali...